Home > Resolving Issues > Boundary Disputes: Frequent Questions

Boundary Disputes: Frequent Questions

By: Sarah Clark (ILEX) - Updated: 4 Dec 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
Neighbour Boundary Dispute Trees Fence

We often hear about boundary disputes between neighbours, and it’s a very contentious area which is often the subject of litigation.

What is a Boundary and How is it Defined?

A boundary between your property and your neighbours (or indeed council and common land) is usually set out in the earliest conveyance deed or transfer deed that refers to the land. If you own the house, you should have been given a copy of the deeds when you bought the property.

The deeds show the boundaries of the land that the person who sold the property to you was intending to sell. The description could be written into the deeds, or most usually described by a visual plan of the land.

Sometimes the plan and the wording of the deeds might differ, but this problem can usually be resolved. Reading the deeds and looking at the plan will give you an indication of which takes precedence, and if it’s not obvious, a solicitor can usually help.

If either the conveyance plan or the words in the deed are obviously inaccurate, this can cause problems, too. If you have any questions, a solicitor can usually help, although in some cases these cases have to be resolved in court.

Establishing Rights Over Hedges and Fences can often be the source of bad feeling between otherwise friendly neighbours.

Can I Paint my Neighbours Fence?

If you want to change anything about a fence that legally belongs to your neighbour, you should ask their permission first – even if you’re only painting or staining your side of the fence.

Your neighbour is perfectly within his or her rights to tell you that he doesn’t want you to paint the fence, even if in your opinion in sorely needs some tidying up. It could be classed as criminal damage if you were to carry on regardless.

Can I Force My Neighbour to repair a Damaged Fence?

Not usually, unless there is some kind of covenant on his property that forces the issue. If the state of his fence is bothering you or causing security issues, there is no reason why you shouldn’t erect a fence of your own next to it.

You could offer to pay for the repairs yourself, if the neighbour simply can’t afford the repairs. If you do this, be sure to put the offer in writing and say that fence is a gift which doesn’t affect the boundary position at all. Keep a copy of your letter with the title deeds, to avoid any boundary confusion in the future.

If you put your own fence up on your own land, you need to be careful not to damage any of your neighbour's property, and make sure it fits in with all the relevant planning permission and byelaws.

Overhanging Trees

Another contentious area between neighbours is the problem of overhanging trees and Ascertaining Your Rights. What seemed like an average sized tree when you moved in could become a nuisance if it grows tall enough to block out your light, and this could mean that you have problems with your own garden as well as reducing the light in the house. You can’t do much about it until the trees start to encroach onto your land, though.

What to Do About Nuisance Trees

If the branches or roots of your neighbour's trees are starting to encroach onto your own land, you are allowed to trim them back to your own boundary.

You don’t have to tell your neighbour that you’re doing this, although you do have to tell them if you need to gain Access To Their Land. Contrary to popular belief, you can also trim a tree that’s subject to a preservation order, although you should get permission from your local authority first.

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,.. - Your Question:
Hi I have a detached house with drive and garden under front window my neighbor is trying to claim six inches of is his were quite clearly there is a boundary line and divide fence before his path and driveway I've shown him the planning deeds but he still disputes it. I he property are typical semi builds from 2002

Our Response:
Unfortunately if you can't resolve this between you and your deeds give accurate details of the boundary, your neighbour will have to take legal action to get this resolved.
ProblemNeighbours - 4-Dec-17 @ 3:42 PM
Hi i have a detached house with drive and garden under front window my neighbor is trying to claim six inches of is his were quite clearly there is a boundary line and divide fence before his path and driveway I've shown him the planning deeds but he still disputes it... I he property are typical semi builds from 2002
,.. - 4-Dec-17 @ 12:09 PM
Katia - Your Question:
Hi, I live in my house for over 15 years. There were always a gate between my garden and neighbour which is hanged on the neighbour outside wall. They have recently told me that they will be removing the gate because will be doing some work to the wall. I have agreed but I wish the gate come back to the same place where have been for last 15 years but they disagree. Am I allowed to put it back to the same place?

Our Response:
Does the gate prevent you entering/exiting your property? Do you need access into your neighbour's garden for some reason? Sorry but there's not really enough information.
ProblemNeighbours - 29-Nov-17 @ 2:54 PM
Scott - Your Question:
We live at the end of a terrace of Victorian houses where there is an easement allowing our immediate neighbours and neighbours next-door-but-one access to their back gardens through ours. When we bought the house around 5 years ago, we noticed that all 3 houses bins were stored in our back garden, next to the garden gate.We queried this at the time, and our sellers said that there was a longstanding verbal agreement between the three houses that they could be kept there and that it had never been a problem for them.It hasn't been a huge deal for us either (a bit annoying due to lack of privacy, a bit smelly in the summer) except now we are a growing family and we need that space to put some bike storage. We have asked both neighbours if they can put the bins on their own property and both have refused - saying that they have a right to keep them there and have kept them there for 20+ years without a problem.I have checked our title deeds and it says that they have a right to pass by foot and bicycle only. Can I insist they remove them?

Our Response:
We're really not sure whether the right to continue with the storage exists simply because it's been done that way for over 20 years. The right to pass and re-pass is in the deeds - so surely the bins are actually preventing the access (in contravention with the terms of the deeds)? It's one for a solicitor we think.
ProblemNeighbours - 28-Nov-17 @ 2:46 PM
We live at the end of a terrace of Victorian houses where there is an easement allowing our immediate neighbours and neighbours next-door-but-one access to their back gardens through ours. When we bought the house around 5 years ago, we noticed that all 3 houses bins were stored in our back garden, next to the garden gate. We queried this at the time, and our sellers said that there was a longstanding verbal agreement between the three houses that they could be kept there and that it had never been a problem for them. It hasn't been a huge deal for us either (a bit annoying due to lack of privacy, a bit smelly in the summer) except now we are a growing family and we need that space to put some bike storage. We have asked both neighbours if they can put the bins on their own property and both have refused - saying that they have a right to keep them there and have kept them there for 20+ years without a problem. I have checked our title deeds and it says that they have a right to pass by foot and bicycle only. Can I insist they remove them?
Scott - 27-Nov-17 @ 2:30 PM
Hi, I live in my house for over 15 years. There were always a gate between my garden and neighbour which is hanged on the neighbour outside wall. They have recently told me that they will be removing the gate because will be doing some work to the wall. I have agreed but I wish the gate come back to the same place where have been for last 15 years but they disagree. Am I allowed to put it back to the same place?
Katia - 26-Nov-17 @ 9:27 AM
Hi all, me and partner have bought house of our dreams - perfect! However, there is a joint path that runs alongside our drive and alongside neighbouring properties hedge. The house next door is council owned, however we have never met the tenants despite being there 6 weeks. Contacted the council to mark the boundary so we can erect a fence (next door seem to think our drive, between our cars is a shortcut to their front door), and they told us we cannot move the path slabs and the only way we can erect a fence is if we put the fence on our side of the path resulting in us losing about 8” of land which over a period of time I believe would under common law, become the land of the council. The reason they said we cannot mess with the slabs is due to our neighbours access (ambulances, white goods etc.) which would be totally acceptable if they didn’t have a gate across THEIR drive that they have chosen to padlock. Also, the hedge that belongs to the neighbour can surely be cut back to maintain their access and they are not welcome to these bleeding slabs. Just don’t know how to rectify this issue so has anyone else experienced this?
Meg2308 - 25-Nov-17 @ 9:42 PM
Jacko - Your Question:
I've recently erected a fence comprising of fancy concrete fence panels and posts. My neighbour complained to me as one side was plain and one was patterned. (She had the plain side) so I paid a added amount to have the lot turned around so she had the pattern. 2 weeks later she complained to the council over the height of fence. I then had to submit plans for the fence which was eventually passed by local council. Now my neighbour has painted my wall on her side magnolia which has voided my warranty with the contractor and also it's a eye sore. Can I have her remove the paint ????

Our Response:
Your neighbour sounds like a "stereotypical problem neighbour". Turning the fence around in the first place was generous of you, you needn't have done this. It's your fence, she can't paint it or attach anything to it etc. You can claim damages/costs of removing the paint, but you may need to do this via the small claims court if she is unwilling to pay.
ProblemNeighbours - 20-Nov-17 @ 2:33 PM
I've recently erected a fence comprising of fancy concrete fence panels and posts. My neighbour complained to me as one side was plain and one was patterned. (She had the plain side) so I paid a added amount to have the lot turned around so she had the pattern. 2 weeks later she complained to the council over the height of fence. I then had to submit plans for the fence which was eventually passed by local council. Now my neighbour has painted my wall on her side magnolia which has voided my warranty with the contractor and also it's a eye sore. Can I have her remove the paint ????
Jacko - 19-Nov-17 @ 2:03 PM
Hi, I have got a terraced house which share an entrance through small garden to the front doors. The house next to me is rented and there is always a lot of rubbish and different stuff laying down on their part of the front garden. I have decided that I would like to extend an entrance from my side and build a small wall on my side of the land so it will not longer be shared. I have contacted a landlord and I have informed her a week ago that I will be doing it. As we share an entrance which is 90 cm wide after I will put a wall she will have only 45 cm to access her front door. I have told her that I can wide this for her for small fee as I am not going to work for free having a small baby at home. She refused it and she said that she doesn't agree to that wall. It will be on my side of the property so where are my legal rights? Can I build the wall and live just 45cm of entrance or I do have to give her any notice in writing?
Prem - 17-Nov-17 @ 6:51 PM
Pea - Your Question:
Live in a row of 8 with no back entrance to the back except through own house. A window cleaner we don’t use climbs over from the left walks through our garden and climbs over the right to do my neighbours windows. We’ve asked him to stop but he’s refusing which has often lead in arguments. Is he allowed to do this? We own the house. The deeds state we only have to allow access to utility companies to maintain pipes wires and and underground work?

Our Response:
What do the other neighbours do? Is it generally accepted that a window cleaner must walk through the house with ladders and buckets? Or are there some other arrangements?
ProblemNeighbours - 7-Nov-17 @ 3:47 PM
Live in a row of 8 with no back entrance to the back except through own house. A window cleaner we don’t use climbs over from the left walks through our garden and climbs over the right to do my neighbours windows. We’ve asked him to stop but he’s refusing which has often lead in arguments. Is he allowed to do this? We own the house.. The deeds state we only have to allow access to utility companies to maintain pipes wires and and underground work?
Pea - 7-Nov-17 @ 10:23 AM
patsypitstop - Your Question:
Man sells off parcels of land to different people with an access road between all properties. Eric builds a wall round his property and uses a shed that is already in place, as his line of boundary. Gary owns the shed and the access road around Erics property. All is peaceful.18 years later Eric tells Gary that he wants the shed taken down because he actually owns part of the land that the access road is on. Eric produces an ordnance survey map which seems to show that there is 2.5 feet of the access road owned by Eric.QUESTION: Has Gary earned the right of continued use of the land and therefore cannot be made to remove all or part of the shed?

Our Response:
You'd have to get a professional to look at the documentation. We assume there are deeds available relating to the sale and the new properties.
ProblemNeighbours - 3-Nov-17 @ 11:28 AM
Man sells off parcels of land to different people with an access road between all properties. Eric builds a wall round his property and uses a shed that is already in place, as his line of boundary. Gary owns the shed and the access road around Erics property. All is peaceful. 18 years later Eric tells Gary that he wants the shed taken down because he actually owns part of the land that the access road is on.Eric produces an ordnance survey map which seems to show that there is 2.5 feet of the access road owned by Eric. QUESTION: Has Gary earned the right of continued use of the land and therefore cannot be made to remove all or part of the shed?
patsypitstop - 2-Nov-17 @ 4:24 PM
vicky - Your Question:
My neighbour has push his fence over my boundary and has wedged it so that it is leaning on my plastic shed other parts of the fence has blown down is now on my side worried it will damage my shed

Our Response:
Talk to you neighbour, ask him to remove the parts of the fence that are on your property and touching your shed.
ProblemNeighbours - 30-Oct-17 @ 11:48 AM
my neighbour has push his fence over my boundary and has wedged it so that it is leaning on my plastic shedother parts of thefence has blown down is now on my sideworried it will damage my shed
vicky - 27-Oct-17 @ 11:29 AM
Hi we havepropertythat has beenin our familyfor 55 years it's vacant landwe all live states away but we pay our taxes and insurance and have it cleaned and mowed every yearthe neighborbuilt a concretepond and put a huge fence aroundat least3000 Sq feet of our propertywe told her when we foundout to get it off our propertyshe's claimingadvise possessionwe had no ideaaboutit can she win this?
Jackson - 22-Oct-17 @ 6:07 AM
Peanut - Your Question:
My neighbour put up a fence completely destroying all my plantsHe has left the original damaged 1960's ugly brick wall on my side of his fenceCan I remove as though he has said he will do something about this he is clearly not going too.The wall no longer has no support and I have had to remove a few of the large blocks which I have given to him

Our Response:
Your neighbour can erect a fence on his own land if he likes. Was the original fence jointly maintainable or did it belong to one of you?
ProblemNeighbours - 16-Oct-17 @ 10:48 AM
My neighbour put up a fence completely destroying all my plants He has left the original damaged 1960's ugly brick wall on my side of his fence Can I remove as though he has said he will do something about this he is clearly not going too. The wall no longer has no support and I have had to remove a few of the large blocks which I have given to him
Peanut - 13-Oct-17 @ 6:27 PM
Susan - Your Question:
I live in a semi. Years ago neighbours built s wall on their property repeating the front gardens. Now new neighbours have moved in. The wall now needs repairing and they say we are responsible for it. It is our boundary line but as I mentioned the wall is on their property. So my question is 1 are we responsible for it. 2 if so do we need to replace it. Considering next doors front garden has no wall/fence at the front.

Our Response:
We don;t know what you deeds say but if you are responsible for maintaining a boundary fence you could erect a simple fence along the actual boundary line, allowing the new neighbours to demolish the wall if they choose.
ProblemNeighbours - 11-Oct-17 @ 11:25 AM
I live in a semi. Years ago neighbours built s wall on their property repeating the front gardens. Now new neighbours have moved in. The wall now needs repairing and they say we are responsible for it. It is our boundary line but as I mentioned the wall is on their property. So my question is 1 are we responsiblefor it. 2 if so do we need to replace it. Considering next doors front garden has no wall/fence at the front.
Susan - 10-Oct-17 @ 5:21 AM
I live in a semi detached house and have a shared drive between me and the next pair of semis. Bottom of the drive there are garages leading to the back gardens. Previous residents had the garage Base and garages built. Mine isn't built upto the boundary leaving a gap of about 4 inches all the way down. Next door their Base is built up to the boundary and at the end is built on my land. This is historical and I know I cant do anything. I put a guttering pipe down this strip on the ground to allow the water from my drive to flow away. Next door have no drainage provision. The rain water collects at their garage door and sometimes floods into their garage. The new people next door have , so I've discovered been onto my property, lifted the guttering pipe in part by wedging the centre part with a piece of wood and lifted the top part completely out and laid it to one side. This allows their flooding water to run onto my land. I have replaced the guttering pipe, concreted it in place and filled the gap on my land. My water flows away. Theirs pools again. I haven't confronted them as I can't prove they moved this. I just put back what was mine. I believe that it's not my problem that their drive collects water as they have no drainage provision and I don't believe I should provide this as they bought their property in full knowledge that it was built up to the boundary. I realise it seems petty but they are taking alot of advantages over other matters regardless of anyone else
Lizzy - 29-Aug-17 @ 5:42 AM
Hi, we have a semi detached house which is has open plan driveways at the front of the house. There was a small strip of tarmac which runs between the two integral garage doors straight down the middle of the houses. My neighbour had a transfer plan which shows this piece of land to be his and he had now block paved his drive and the piece of tarmac which should haveoriginally been shrubs but the house builder laid tarmac instead. It means his block paving now comes right to the edge of our garage door past the inside wall of our house. Can this be legal?
Sam - 20-Aug-17 @ 9:52 PM
Millie - Your Question:
I live in a semi.1920's with an alley/entryway between myself and the next semi. This entryway serves to access both our rear gardens by means of each of us having a gate. My neighbour who has mental health issues, (calls me the devil at times when abusing me) is hell bent on preventing me from using this alleyway by either threatening me verbally (for which I've had to get the police several times), blocking my way physically herself and having placed plants in tubs, wooden planks and even a bin to prevent my using my gate. This has been going on for about 3-4 years now and the police to date have been totally ineffective despite the fact that a few months back in the presence of witnesses and in a rage, she actually pushed me. Unfortunately she is a very fit lady in her 80's.yes 80's!.but I've been told several times by her son that she suffers from delusions and that she doesn't take her meds and he can't make her.but surely if this is the case Social/Mental health services should be involved?? This I have emphasised to the police but to no avail. In addition to this even without giving her eye contact, she will even approach me on the street or on my on driveway will start accusing me of nonsensical things, shouting at me the whole time. However my entryway is a big problem for me as I now realise that if I'm unable to resolve this, I won't even be able to sell my property at this rate and don't know who to turn to for help. All the houses in the road of the same design have shared access to this (I've checked each household) snd tge 2 gates to each garden hsve been present since I bought the property so no changes made). The deeds unfortunately don't show the boundaries sufficiently and when I've called the land registry they weren't able to give me verbal confirmation that this is shared access. I'm at my wits end with this as commonsense would dictate and even the police agree that the entryway is for both our uses. Can anyone suggest any route I can go down in order to stop this woman from what the police have said is harassment and get this issue redolved as I'm finding it increasingly difficult yo even maintain my property and would be a health and safety issue in the case of and emergency should I need to exit my property via the garden for any reason.Help!

Our Response:
You could try contacting your local mental health support service ( here's a useful link ) to see if you can refer her to more support etc. Your title deeds should mention the access rights, if they do, you could take legal action to enforce them.
ProblemNeighbours - 17-Aug-17 @ 10:50 AM
I live in a semi..1920's with an alley/entryway between myself and the next semi. This entryway serves to access both our rear gardens by means of each of us having a gate. My neighbour who has mental health issues, (calls me the devil at times when abusing me) is hell bent on preventing me from using this alleyway by either threatening me verbally(for which I've had to get the police several times), blocking my way physically herself and having placed plants in tubs, wooden planks and even a bin to prevent my using my gate. This has been going on for about 3-4 years now and the police to date have been totally ineffective despite the fact that a few months back in the presence of witnesses and in a rage, she actually pushed me. Unfortunately she is a very fit lady in her 80's ...yes 80's!..but I've been told several times by her son that she suffers from delusions and that she doesn't take her meds and he can't make her..but surely if this is the case Social/Mental health services should be involved??... This I have emphasised to the police but to no avail. In addition to this even without giving her eye contact, she will even approach me on the street or on my on driveway will start accusing me of nonsensical things, shouting at me the whole time. However my entryway is a big problem for me as I now realise that if I'm unable to resolve this, I won't even be able to sell my property at this rate and don't know who to turn to for help. All the houses in the road of the same design have shared access to this (I've checked each household) snd tge 2 gates to each garden hsve been present since I bought the property so no changes made). The deeds unfortunately don't show the boundaries sufficiently and when I've called the land registry they weren't able to give me verbal confirmation that this is shared access. I'm at my wits end with this as commonsense would dictate and even the police agree that the entryway is for both our uses. Can anyone suggest any route I can go down in order to stop this woman from what the police have said is harassment and get this issue redolved as I'm finding it increasingly difficult yo even maintain my property and would be a health and safety issue in the case of and emergency should I need to exit my property via the garden for any reason. Help!
Millie - 15-Aug-17 @ 9:53 AM
PRR - Your Question:
Hi, we had to arrange an emergency repair on our roof and due to the roofers needing to cross the neighbour roof and put scaffolding on their land I went to see them. The owner is on holiday but gained permission from her 20 year daughter. Now the grandmother has kicked off saying thatvee should have waited as the daughter has no authority to provide the permission. Was I in the right to ask considering I had no contact details for the owner and we had no electricity due to water coming in through the roof?

Our Response:
It was an emergency and you didn't really have a choice, we think the courts would see it that way but to be sure you should seek legal advice if the neighbour decides to take it further.
ProblemNeighbours - 7-Aug-17 @ 12:26 PM
Hi, we had to arrange an emergency repair on our roof and due to the roofers needing to cross the neighbour roof and put scaffolding on their land I went to see them. The owner is on holiday but gained permission from her 20 year daughter. Now the grandmother has kicked off saying thatvee should have waited as the daughter has no authority to provide the permission. Was I in the right to ask considering I had no contact details for the owner and we had no electricity due to water coming in through the roof?
PRR - 3-Aug-17 @ 4:58 PM
Millie - Your Question:
We live in a single story barn conversion with the end bedroom wall being on the boundary between us and our neighbours. We noticed last week that they had planted some trees against this wall and went round to have a polite word with them about our concerns that the trees would damage our home. We were met with agression from the neighbour and although we kept calm and tried to reason with them, it fell on deaf ears. We were informed that the trees were infact hornbeam and they were planted right against our wall. What can we do now? Our house insurance is due shortly and there is a question about trees within so many metres of our property. If we lie we will be invalidating our insurance. If we fail to mention it we will also be in the same position. We have never had any problems with this neighbour although I know that our other neighbour has and as a result of much unpleasantness have decided to sell their house. We bought and converted this barn as our retirement home and are now faced with a problem. Any advice please.

Our Response:
You should mention the trees to your insurer but it's worth calling first to explain that they've only just been planted etc. If you are worried that the trees will damage your property, you should seek an opinion from an expert (surveyor and/or arboriculturalist) then you will have some professional evidence if you need to take legal action. If the trees are actually touching your wall you may be able take legal action to force your neighbour to move them on the basis of criminal damage/trespass.
ProblemNeighbours - 26-Jul-17 @ 12:34 PM
Hi I have a drop kerb between mine and my neighbours house. I have a drive my neighbour doesn't he has a path and a garden so now where to ask his property . I have had to start parking one of my cars in front of the dip as my neighbours wide keep parking so near the dropped kerb that I can't get off my drive. I have asked her to move over as she has a good 10 ft or more the other side of her that. I one parks in but she is just abusive when asked. If I pull up I cannot open my door and get out of my car to open my gate as she is parked so close . Is she causing an offence by doing this and do I have a right to get her to move her vehicle
Kal - 24-Jul-17 @ 7:17 PM
icjanie- Your Question:
Hi I am a private home owner living in my house for four years prior to our moving in the neighbour had erected a lean to between his house and the boundary fence the roof of which over hangs the boundary fence the previous owners of our home must have allowed this as there is guttering along the fence on our side under the over hanging plastic roof. Please can you tell me if we can asked for the over hanging roof to be remove to behind our neighbours fence I ask as the gutter is not maintained his down pipe is blocked both of which are causing all of the water from his house roof and lean to roof to pour down onto our side/land between the two properties leaving the ground sodden along the side of our property I'm am concerned about damp issues as our property was built in 1934 thank you

Our Response:
If planning permission/the extension was already in place before you purchased the property, this is something that should have been picked up on during the conveyancing process. If the previous neighbours agreed to the overhang, there's not much you can do about it now. Discuss this with your neighbours and see if you come to some mutually acceptable solution to the problem.
ProblemNeighbours - 24-Jul-17 @ 11:42 AM
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